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How to Fill Out the Forms to Copyright Your Music

(By Richard Morales)
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Now that you have made the wise decision to copyright your music and/or lyrics, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the forms. There are four forms located on the www.copyright.gov website that are used for protecting musical arrangements. They are Form PA, Simple Form PA, Form SR, and Form CON. Form PA and the Simple Form PA are both used to copyright written musical compositions, including lyrics. The Form SR protects sound recordings, including the music and lyrics. Finally, CON is used, when additional room is needed to complete one of the other forms. For more information regarding choosing the right form, visit  

Because the majority of bands do not write their music down into a formal composition, we will focus on Form SR. The ideal solution is to register the sound recording, as well as the written musical composition, including any lyrics. If you and your band are the sole owners of the recording and the musical composition, as well as the lyrics, you can do all of this using the SR Form. If not, you will need to use a combination of the SR and the appropriate PA Form. To submit your music using SR, you will need two copies of the recording. The lyrics will need to be clearly discernable. If you are registering the written portion as well, you will also need two copies of the printed lyrics and musical composition.

Begin by filling out Section 1 with the appropriate title of the music. If the piece has an alternative, previous, or content title, insert the information and circle the correct category. In some cases a piece might be known by two names, you will want to register the song under both titles. Section 2 requires the information for the authors of the piece. This would be all of the band members, as well as anyone, who wrote the music or lyrics. If you require additional room, you can use the CON Form to list more names. Within this section, include names, date of birth, nationality (what country the person is from), if the author’s work was completed anonymously, and his or her contribution. For example, if this member helped to write the score for the music, then that information should be included under Nature of Authorship. If you are registering the sound recording and the musical composition, make sure that the appropriate party claims ownership under the Nature of Authorship section. For works that were commissioned by someone, be sure to check the “yes” box and follow the instructions located on the side of the form.

In Section 3 enter the year the recording was completed. In addition, you will need to include the date, when the music was first recorded, and the country in which it took place. Under Section 4, each member that is claiming authorship will need to include his or her name and address. Use the CON form, if you need additional room.  If you obtained the copyright from someone else, you must explain how you acquired it within this portion of the form. For works that are being resubmitted for some reason, check the “yes” box under the Previous Registrations portion of Section 5. In most cases, the “no” box will be selected, and you will move on to Section 6.  However, if this is a resubmission, notate the appropriate reason, as A, B, or C, and enter the previous registration number and year that it occurred. Then explain your answer under Section 6. Like Section 6, most individuals can skip Section 7a, which deals with deposit accounts for paying the registration fees. This is for people, who register material on a regular basis and keep an open account used for paying the fees.

Section 7b is critical. This is the individual, who will be contacted regarding any issues arising from the copyright. You should include a name, address, phone number, email, and fax number for the person, who you want to be the contact. You will certify ownership in Section 8. Simply check the appropriate box and type or print the name(s) with the date. Be sure that the date is not before any date listed in Section 3. Then have each individual on the form sign the document on the line provided in Section 8. In Section 9, enter the name and address where the certificate should be mailed.

Once the form is completed, you will need to include two copies of the recording and the printed composition, if applicable. In an envelope place the non-returnable copies, the finished forms, and a check or money order for $45 made out to Register of Copyrights. Everything should be mailed to the Library of Congress, Copyright Office,
101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington DC, 20559-6000. The Register’s Office is not responsible for lost materials, so spend the extra money and mail your package via certified mail, return receipt requested. The process is slow, so don’t expect to see your certificate for at least four to five months, but you are now on your way to securing your future. 

Updated: February 18, 2008

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